Tennis is expensive. Racquets, strings, grips, tennis balls, and shoes are just some of the things we have to keep buying to play the game we love.
Below are my 10 tips for playing tennis on a budget. Because we need money to pay the rent too.
1. Buy a Stringing Machine
You can save hundreds of dollars per year by purchasing a stringing machine. Stringing is not difficult to learn. Once you figure out how to weave strings and tie a knot, you are golden.
Right now, you probably spend at least $25 bucks per string job. Let’s estimate that you string 2 racquets per month. Your total racquet-stringing costs are $600 a year ($25 x 2 x 12).
Instead, you can buy a $180 stringing machine and a couple reels of string ($160/reel) which will cost you $500 total. You will break even in less than a year!
After that, you will start saving good money, because you will only pay for the cost of the string, which is $10 per racquet for a $160 reel. That’s a $15 savings on every racquet you string!
24 string jobs (1 year) x $15 means you will save $360 per year! That’s a lot of money. And the more frequently you need to string racquets, the more money you will save. String for your friends to make extra income!
2. Purchase Older Model Racquets
When a premium racquet first hits the market, it will be in the $200-300 range. Then a few years go by, and an updated model comes out. What happens then? The price of the older model will take a nose-dive to make room for the newer one.
You don’t need the latest model racquet to play great tennis. The same principle works for clothes, shoes, and other tennis products, too.
3. Buy Shoes with a 6-Month Warranty
Most of the big brands make fantastic shoes with 6-month warranties. If you can wear out these shoes within 6-months, you get a free pair!
The Gel Resolution model has been the lightest and most favorite pair of shoes that I have used in this category. Shoes with 6-month warranties tend to be a bit heavier because they are more durable. However, these shoes are getting lighter thanks to advances in shoe technology.
The extra weight can be a good thing, because these shoes are usually more stable than their lighter counterparts. And you will get used to the weight, if you notice a difference, after a couple hitting sessions.
If you want to save money on shoes, buy a pair with a warranty and enjoy two pairs for the price of one! Just remember to keep the receipt and the warranty card included in the box, and don’t forget to send the shoes back before the 6-month deadline!
4. Use Cheaper Strings
You can probably find cheaper alternatives to the strings that you use. If you like your current strings but wouldn’t mind saving some money, there are tons of similar strings on the market that you should try.
For example, I used to play with Babolat RPM Blast, but switched to another polyester string called Volkl Cyclone which costs half as much! Since money isn’t growing out of my pockets, and Cyclone plays similar to RPM, I happily made the change. Now I play with the Tour version of Cyclone because it feels a bit softer.
You can search for cheaper strings at places like Tennis Express, Holabird Sports, or other tennis shops. There are a ton of tennis strings on the market, but you can filter for type, gauge, brand, and more on the websites above to help find what strings will suit you best.
5. Buy in Bulk
Purchase as many products as you can in bulk to save money. For example, one can of tennis balls costs $3 to $4 bucks. Instead, you can get 24-cans of tennis balls for $60. You will save between $12 to $36 dollars per 24 cans!
Since buying 16 individual packs at $18 each costs $288, this means you will save $33 bucks ($288-$245) if you buy a reel. Believe me, it (reely) adds up!
You should also buy grips in bulk (30 or 60 packs). Everyone buys in bulk to save on groceries and other products, so why not buy in bulk for tennis, too?
6. Search for Coupon Codes
Perform a quick google search for coupons on the tennis shop you are buying from. You can often find coupon codes that you can input in your shopping cart that will take off a percentage from your total bill. Just search for “[name of tennis shop] coupon code.” It’ll take you less than a minute, and you can save a few bucks.
7. Save Old Tennis Balls
If you open a fresh can of tennis balls and use it for one practice session, chances are it is still good enough to use again. And even if the balls lose some bounce, you can still use them for other things like practicing your serve or placing balls on the court as targets or for footwork drills.
I recommend you buy a ball hopper to store and pick up balls. I use this one, which holds 75 balls and is pretty inexpensive ($25). Buy your tennis balls in bulk and you’ll have enough for one!
8. Play Tennis Outdoors When Possible
Playing indoors costs anywhere from $20 to $40 an hour. Not that cheap. I recommend that you play outdoors if possible to save money.
Most outdoor courts are free. You can use tennismaps.com to easily find public (or private) tennis courts in your area. If it’s a little chilly, layer up! Or invest the $20 you just saved towards a sweatshirt!
9. Indoor Tennis: Early Bird and Splitting Court Costs
If you have to play tennis indoors, there are a couple things you can do to save money.
First, if you can, play tennis during the non-peak or early bird hours. The cheapest time to play is usually first thing in the morning (~6am), followed by weekdays during work hours. The most expensive times to play are after work or on the weekend.
Second, make sure to split the court costs with a friend. And if you play doubles, the cost can be divided by 4. That makes playing tennis pretty cheap!
Bonus Tip: Sometimes, tennis clubs don’t mind if you play past the time you booked, as long as you paid for an hour. So keep playing and see if they say anything! If they are strict about court times or you see an employee scowling at you, you may want to get off the court! Find a court online that will be empty after your time slot to facilitate this strategy.
10. Ask for a Discount on Lessons
Ask your coach for a discount if you take multiple lessons. A coach will only list an hourly rate. However, if you are willing to commit to 5 or 10 lessons, sometimes the instructor will cut you a deal. This is great for both parties: you save some money, and the coach has guaranteed income coming his or her way. It won’t always work, but it has for several of my friends. “If you don’t ask, you won’t get.”
11. Re-Use Grips
If you want to save a few bucks, and don’t believe in wasting a perfectly good grip, then try re-using your tennis grips!
When one side of your tennis grip is no longer usable, take it off the handle and turn it over to the other side. If that side isn’t worn or damp, you can use the grip again!
Will you score style points and be invited to the next “I am the 1% meeting?” Probably not. But if you want to save money and don’t have an extra grip in your bag, re-using the backside of a tennis grip might do the trick.
12. Use a Rubber Band as a Vibration Dampener
Vibration dampeners come in a lot of cool varieties, but there’s no need to pay for one. Instead, tie a rubber band to the same spot of the stringbed where you would place a vibration dampener. If you don’t believe me, google search Andre Agassi. He used rubber bands and he did pretty well. Throw a bunch of them in your bag, and you are all set to go! Boom, more money in the bank!
13. Practice More Efficiently
Don’t waste your time or money on training that doesn’t help your game. If you take private or group lessons, tell your coach what you want to work on to maximize the value of your investment. Arranging practices with tough players who want to improve is the cheapest way to train effectively (cost = $0).
Be smart about your training, and your wallet will thank you for it.
Note: The product links above are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I make a small commission. If you do, I really appreciate it! And if not, I appreciate you too 🙂
If you have any other ideas about how to play tennis on a budget, I would love to hear about them. Let me know by leaving a comment!
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